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Returnable Transit Packaging innovation from LINPAC Allibert

As a pioneer in the development and application of Returnable Transit Packaging (RTP), LINPAC Allibert’s designers have been responsible for many significant innovations in the industry. The company has changed the face of re-useable containers with its long list of industry firsts including the iconic multi-height Maxinest® tray and Bi-Colour 180° Stack Nest Containers, as well as service provision innovations.

Simon Knights, commercial director from LINPAC Allibert, comments: "RTP isn’t just about designing a simple container. The packaging has to work seamlessly with so many different systems throughout the supply chain, from original supplier to warehouses and distribution centres, processors, factory floors and finally to retailers themselves and back again. It takes time and experience to conceive, prototype and test RTP to meet exact requirements, particularly when dealing with automated systems."

The now famous Maxinest® containers were developed by LINPAC Allibert following close observation of how the food and grocery supply chain worked and were designed in consultation with major retailers. The original design was registered in 1995 and has now grown into a range of 11 variants. Maxinest® is the only range of produce trays to offer multi-height options, enabling the same tray to be used for a number of different applications. This is because the stacking bar provides two or three stacked heights, enabling the same container to be used for a number of different applications. For example, delicate produce would have the bale arm set to the lowest position, for greater stacked density, whereas the full stacked height would be used for distributing robust produce.

Simon Knights adds: "As an RTP developer we are very conscious of the space constraints faced by many businesses and it is important that once used, the containers don’t take up too much storage space before they are transported back to be re-filled. That was the key driver behind the development of another one of our innovations, the bi-colour 180° Stack Nest Container which stacks securely when loaded but by turning 180°, nests when empty to save valuable space on return transport. The bi-colour design provides visual identification of the stacking position to prevent accidentally crushing contents."

As well as product innovations, LINPAC Allibert continually seeks to offer a customer-centric service and deliver additional financial benefits. Once such initiative is the Buy Back Scheme, which operates in a similar way to part exchange, and allows customers to sell back their unwanted or damaged containers. Not only do customers receive cash for a written down asset, giving it a value on their profit and loss account, but the scheme also benefits the environment as the old stock is recycled. Customers are then able to use the cash to upgrade their stock by buying new containers from LINPAC Allibert, or if the new containers are acquired on a lease, there is no upfront payment meaning a fresh new fleet of top quality RTP is immediately cash-positive. LINPAC Allibert is also one of the only RTP suppliers to offer purchase on finance, providing a flexible way for customers to fulfil their container requirements without a prohibitive initial financial outlay.

LINPAC Allibert is a global expert in RTP for the retail sector and has invested heavily in new products and services designed to minimise carbon footprint and optimise supply chain efficiency. It is also the first company in its sector to have the full life-cycle carbon footprint of two of its products independently verified by a recognised certification body. This environmental assessment found that the two different types of RTP manufactured in polypropylene are more carbon efficient than single-trip cardboard containers after just 20 trips – and the company estimates that typically a plastic container goes through the grocery supply chain cycle around 24 times a year for as many as seven or eight years.

While these findings underscore the environmental benefits of RTP, there are also financial benefits for retailers. Replacing disposable cardboard packaging with plastic RTP will often pay for itself after just 12 trips, so with the quoted usable life of at least 92 trips, there are significant on-going financial savings. The plastic containers are robust, so products arrive in prime condition and free from tape or staples, they provide faster handling times and less risk of operator injury.

Simon concludes: "We’re proud to have been at the forefront of so many RTP innovations which have helped businesses in many different industries. In many cases the development of new products and services arises from our close working relationships with customers. We listen to and work in partnership with them to get to know their businesses. By studying forecasts and understanding trends we keep abreast of their needs in rapidly changing marketplaces."

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